BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST. Baby’s balance development.
Balance development is closely related to mobility development. Without the ability to balance it is very difficult to be mobile. Human beings combine their balance ability with other abilities so they can, for example, run, dance, stand, do gymnastics, ride surfboards, ski, skate and perform on balance beams. If their balance and other sense development is excellent people can perform those activities with excellence. The activities mentioned are all but impossible to do without the ability to balance. And the ability of any person to run, jump, dance, do gymnastics or any of the other activities is improved or reduced if she has a higher or lower level of balance development.
It will become obvious as baby progresses from birth to crawling, creeping, walking and running that each of these activities in turn requires her to have a higher level of balance development. Therefore, whenever baby moves up a Level in her mobility development she simultaneously moves up a Level in her balance development. In other words when baby is at Level 1 of “ BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE”, she will also be at Level 1 of “BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST.”. When she moves from Level 1 of BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE to Level 2 of BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE she simultaneously moves up to Level 2 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST. The same procedure is followed for each of the seven mobility and balance levels; when baby moves to up to Level 3 of BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE she also moves up to Level 3 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST and when she moves up to Level 4 of BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE she also moves up to Level 4 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST. Equally, when she moves up to Levels 5, 6 and 7 of BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE she simultaneously moves up to Levels 5, 6 and 7 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST respectively.
A note for late starters:
There is no need to read this note if your child will commence doing the magnificentchildren.love activities before she is three months old. If baby will be doing the activities before she is three months old please proceed to and commence the following section entitled, “Balance development is fun”.
If you have an older child who has not been doing the Balance Development activities since before she was three months old then do as follows:
Commence her Balance Development activities at Level 1.
Check what her current development Level is in the section entitled “BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE: Baby’s ability to move and mobility development” (Chapter 5). Your child’s current development Level is established by reading the section in all Levels from 1 to 7 titled “What baby should be doing at this level of development” until you establish which is her present Level of development.
Commence BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE: and other Natural Parenting activities at the Levels you establish as correct for your child; but for BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST do the following:
Take baby through BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST by beginning at Level 1 and completing the activities at each Level up to and including Level 4.
Level 1 should take about 1month. Level 2 should take about 1.5 months. Level 3 should take about 4.5 months. Level 4 should take about 5 months.
Then commence Level 5 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST.
If toddler is now at Level 6 or 7 of BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE: then complete level 5 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST when toddler can do all the activities well, but in no less than 3 months, then commence Level 6 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST. Level 5 should take about six months.
If toddler is now at Level 7 of BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE: then complete level 6 of BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST when toddler can do all the activities well but in no less than 3 months. Level 6 should take about 18 months.
If at any time after baby commences BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST you find she has caught up and is doing BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE: at the same Level then she should continue to do
BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST at the same Level as she does BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE:
Balance development is fun.
The magnificentchildren.love balance development activities should be a very enjoyable experience for both parents and baby. From Level 1 through to Level 7 the balance development activities are in many ways like the experiences children enjoy in amusement parks. Newborns as well as older children can enjoy the activities because they are graded for safe enjoyment by children at each Level.
Most children will want to do balance development activities over and over again. It is usually OK to give children additional balance development activities but it is always important to discontinue the activities before they become tired or bored with them. This latter point requires constant attention by parents in all magnificentchildren.love activities.
If you allow baby or toddler to do an activity until she becomes tired and/or bored then she will be having a negative experience with that activity. She is then unlikely to want to do that activity again or is likely to lose at least some enjoyment of that activity in the future.
Balance: From baby to gymnast:
The following balance activities are intended to develop baby’s balance to a high standard and provide her with the balance ability to be an excellent gymnast. This does not mean however, that baby can only be a gymnast when she has completed the seven Levels of activities. In fact, having the balance ability of a gymnast expands her horizons by allowing her to have a wide choice about which physical activities she will participate in.
When doing magnificentchildren.love balance activities there are several steps that can be taken to help avoid the risk of accidental injury.
Always do the activities in a clear and open space away from walls. Ensure there are no potentially dangerous objects on the floor such as large toys, tricycles or other children. Keep well away from all furniture including the edges and corners of tables. Concentrate on doing the activity and do not get involved in conversation that might divert your attention from baby’s safety whilst doing the activity. Focus on baby and her safety at all times.
Always use the neck support described later to help protect baby’s neck from injury.
Balance development is usually a matter of chance:
Without realising they are doing so, many parents hold, move and play with their baby in ways that help develop her balance ability from the time of birth. They do so by rocking baby in their arms, by walking while they hold her, by lifting her up and down and by rolling her over to pick her up. Each time baby goes through one or more of those movements or changes in position the part of her brain that is responsible for balance (technically called the vestibular area) is stimulated and begins developing the ability to balance. If the balance area of the brain develops well then baby will be able to balance her body well when she begins crawling, creeping, walking, running, and perhaps does gymnastics, pole vaulting, surfboard riding, white water rafting, skiing, dancing or other activities which require a good to excellent sense of balance. How quickly and how well an average baby develops balance ability depends on the number of chance occasions that the balance area of her brain is stimulated. The more often a baby’s balance is stimulated in appropriate ways the more likely she is to develop excellent balance.
The opportunity to develop an excellent sense of balance.
Magnificentchildren.love parents create an environment where baby has the opportunity to allow her sense of balance to learn and grow. Some of the balance development activities parents do with baby are; dancing together in a gentle rhythmic way, lifting baby up and putting her down, rolling her gently from side to side and pulling her along the floor on a piece of carpet, fabric or a low pillow. These and other balance activities are fun and enjoyable and give parent and baby many opportunities to play and socialise together each day. The Natural Parenting balance development activities are, for baby, like being at a baby level fun park. Great fun.
Obviously any activity with baby must be done with care and concern for her well being. Similar health and safety rules apply to babies as to older children, except that baby needs more support and more safety. Again, similarly to older children, baby needs activity and environmental stimulation to perpetuate her health and development. Younger children and babies can become physically and mentally run down and unhealthy in the same way as older children if they have insufficient exercise, diet, hygiene and environmental stimulation.
Baby though, obviously requires less strenuous physical activity than older children and adults. She must also be happy and in good health to fully benefit from balance development activities. When unwell, baby usually needs rest, but when she is happy and well, she is usually keen to be active. During balance development activities baby must always be held gently but firmly and her head supported so that her neck is well protected and never stressed. A neck support as described below should be used to avoid the risk of neck strain or injury.
The Balance Development activities in Levels 1 and 2 provide baby with the foundation balance ability that determines how well she will balance as a child and as an adult. The aim, of course, is to give her the best balance development we can, in a happy, natural, and enjoyable way.
Baby will first use her developing balance ability in a significant way when she begins to crawl. Level 1 and 2 balance activities give her balance experience that will help her to crawl. Her Level 1 and 2 balance activity experiences will become ever more important as she learns how to creep, walk and run. When she learns to creep (probably in the next nine months), she will have to lift herself up onto her hands and knees to do so. Without the ability to balance she could not do so.
Happily for baby her experiences doing the Balance Development activities should make getting up on her hands and knees, and then creeping across the floor, an easier, safer and more enjoyable experience.
The sketch on the right shows a baby wearing a neck support and the information about how to make it follows. A dressmaker can easily make a neck support for parents who prefer not to make it. Although there is not a high risk of injury, a neck support should be worn by all children for the same reasons that all children should be firmly held by a seat belt when in a car. If an accident does occur then both seat belts and neck supports can prevent or greatly reduce injury. Check with a qualified medical practitioner if your child might be susceptible to neck or other injuries before commencing balance activities.
Making a neck support.
A soft fabric is cut to size 150mm x 775mm.
Firmly stitch 200mm x 20mm hook and loop Velcro (over 700mm long fabric ties) about 20mm in from the ends of the fabric and 30mm in from the long sides; as shown in the diagram below.
The 12mm border in the diagram shows an imaginary stitch line where the fabric is later stitched together after it is folded around a foam rubber insert.
Fold the fabric (with the Velcro on the inside) and stitch the two sides and one end together along the imaginary stitch line. Turn the fabric ‘tube’ inside out (the Velcro will now be on the outside). Insert a rectangular shaped piece of foam rubber into the fabric ‘tube’. Stitch up the open end and the neck support is completed.
Fun balance activities for parents and babies:
A list of magnificentchildren.love activities follows. These are practical activities for children to do with their parent’s help. Magnificentchildren.love parents create the environment baby requires to complete her ONSDEP. In many cases, these activities are the environment required and, after commencement, promote baby’s excellent natural development.
The activity list sometimes includes extracts of preceding sections as well as new information. The list is intended for use as a day to day checklist for quick and easy reference but, to fully understand and participate in the activities, parents may need to re-read the entire Level, or other parts of this book, from time to time.
The following balance development activities are suitable for healthy newborn babies and can easily be commenced soon after, or within a day or two, of baby’s birth.
Try the different balance activities listed as well as others you invent yourself and do the ten you feel most comfortable with once each day.
When it is clear to you that baby is enjoying these balance activities do each of the ten you have selected two times each day. You will probably notice that she is enjoying the activities within seven days of commencing.
Therefore the total time baby will spend doing Level 1 balance development activities each day is about ten minutes minimum. The time baby spends doing any one Level1balance development activity is about one minute minimum.
There should be a break of at least two minutes between each balance activity until it is clear to you that baby is enjoying the activities. Once you have established that she is enjoying herself then two balance activities can be carried out, one following the other, before a break.
Try to spread the balance activities out evenly throughout the day. Avoid doing more than three balance activities in any fifteen-minute period. This should ensure that baby continues to enjoy the activities, looks forward to doing them and does not get bored with them.
Always tell baby what activity you are about to do with her before you do it and always explain what you are doing while you do it.
Dolls, and sometimes older children, can act as models to practice the following activities if you want to be extra safe and sure about how you hold and handle baby during the activities.
Always stop doing any activity baby is enjoying before she wants to stop. By stopping while baby is still enjoying the activity she will be left with the feeling that she has enjoyed the activity. She will then be pleased when she is told that she will be able to do the activity again later.
Rocking In A Chair.
Method 1: Sit in a rocking chair with baby held against your chest and rock back and forth. Rock for one minute (or longer if you would like to relax).
Method 2: Place baby across your lap and rock for one minute.
One of the easiest and most pleasant balance development activities for both baby and parent is to put on your favourite waltz, classical, country and western, or other gentle swing-like (but not rapid and aggressive) music and dance with baby. Hold her high up on your chest in a safe and comfortable way being careful not to stress her neck as you move. Tell her about what you are doing and dance with her for one minute. Only one minute of dancing is required for baby’s balance development at this Level but, because dancing has other future benefits as well as being an enjoyable activity for baby, it is suggested you dance for one minute at least three times each day. Further it is suggested that you add one minute to each dance session each week until you are doing three five-minute dances each day. By doing extra dance time with baby you are providing her with an appreciation of dance, rhythm and music. Her appreciation of dance, rhythm and music will likely encourage her to express herself through dance and music, as she grows older.
While dancing turn around, move up and down, lean forward and back and change your position constantly as you move to the music. Baby should be delighted! Dancing with baby in this way is a great way to spend time together. If baby is obviously enjoying herself and you wish to do more than three 5 minute sessions then gentle dancing for up to 10 minutes each session or up to ten dancing sessions is not excessive.
Jogging About Your Home.
Tell baby what you are going to do. Pick her up, hold her closely and firmly and go for a gentle jog through your home. Do this for five seconds the first time and add approximately one second each time you ‘jog about the house’ until you are jogging about the house for 30 seconds each time. Thereafter each time you do this activity do so for thirty seconds.
Pitching Up And Down.
This activity, though a gentler version, is similar to the pitching motion of ‘pirate ship’ rides found in many theme and fun parks around the world.
While standing or kneeling carefully hold baby with one hand under her head and one hand under her bottom. Rock (or pitch) baby from your left to your right side, like an exaggerated version of how a baby is often rocked in an adult’s arms. Rock her from one side to the other until her head is a little higher than her feet then rock her to the other side until her feet are a little higher than her head. Do this, rocking back and forth, for 5 seconds the first time and add approximately one second each time you do ‘Pitching Up And Down’ until you are ‘Pitching Up and Down’ for 30 seconds each time. Thereafter each time you do this activity do so for thirty seconds; gently and lovingly.
Carpet Or Pillow Rides Forth And Back.
Lay baby comfortably and safely face down on a pillow or soft carpet, as you kneel beside her and gently pull her across the floor. When you place her on the pillow or carpet ensure that she will not fall off and that she can breathe easily.
Pull her for a distance of about six hundred millimetres in about 10 seconds on the first ride and increase the distance and time each time she has a ride. Gradually, over the next two weeks, speed up the ride to a speed equal to the average speed she moves at in other balance development activities. Keep the ride in a straight direction to avoid the risk of baby rolling off if you were to move too quickly in a curved path.
Do this activity for ten seconds the first time and add approximately one second each time until you are giving her a carpet or pillow ride for 30 seconds each time. Thereafter each time you do this activity do so for thirty seconds.
Also give baby a ride in reverse (that is feet first) for the same amount of time she rides forward.
Carpet or pillow rides from side to side.
Lay baby comfortably and safely face down on a carpet or pillow and kneel in front of her head. Ensure baby’s head is turned to one side and that she can breathe easily. Take hold of the pillow at her right side with your left hand then take hold of the pillow at her left side with your right hand. While you remain kneeling pull her to your right with your right hand and then to your left with your left hand.
Pull baby once to the left and once to the right for two days. Then add one more pull to the left and one to the right each two days until baby is having six rides (pulls) to the left and six rides (pulls) to the right.
Carpet or Pillow Turns.
Lay baby comfortably and safely on a pillow or soft, clean carpet, as you kneel beside her and gently turn her in a circle. Firstly turn her from right to left and then from left to right. One complete rotation should take from five to 10 seconds. Do five turns from left to right and five turns from right to left. When you place her on the pillow or carpet ensure that she will not fall off and that she can breathe easily.
Lay on your back on a bed or floor and, using both hands, hold baby almost horizontally above you as if she is an airplane. ‘Fly’ her by moving her to the left, to the right, towards your feet and above your head. Then bring her in for a landing on your chest. ‘Fly’ for five seconds the first time and add approximately one second each time you take baby ‘flying’ until she is ‘flying’ for 30 seconds each time. Thereafter, each time you do this activity do so for thirty seconds.
Lay baby on her back on a blanket or similar soft, flat surface. Kneel on her right side and place your thumb or a finger in her left palm, allowing her to grasp it. Gently and carefully pull your hand towards yourself so that baby (who is grasping your finger or thumb) begins to roll to her side. Continue to pull your hand (and grasping baby) until she has rolled into a face down position.
Then roll baby onto her back again. Move to baby’s left side, kneel and place your finger or thumb in her right hand, allow her to grasp it and pull her carefully and gently towards yourself until she rolls into a face down position.
Roll baby once to the left and once to the right for two days then add one more roll to the left and right each two days until baby is doing three rolls to the left and three rolls to the right.
When beginning to roll baby in either direction ensure her lower arm (the one not grasping you) is straight enough for her to roll over comfortably without hurting herself. You can test out what is comfortable by trying to roll across the floor yourself and discovering how it feels.
Rolling activity develops baby’s balance, her grasping ability and also her breath control. Each time baby rolls from her side she will usually take a deeper breath and hold it for a moment. Developing breath control at this time is an important step towards having the breath control required for speaking, singing, swimming, and other enjoyable activities.
Walking And Flying.
Walk about with baby. Hold her in front of yourself and move (‘fly’) her in the air as you walk. Hold her firmly with one hand at the back of her head and neck and one hand firmly under her bottom. Move her up and down and from side to side and with a curved rocking motion.
Do this for five seconds the first time and add approximately one second each time you go ‘walking and flying (moving)’ until you are ‘walking and flying’ for 30 seconds each time. Thereafter each time you do this activity do so for thirty seconds.
Shoulder Turning. (Left To Right).
Hold baby high on your chest and shoulder and spin around at a safe moderate speed from left to right three times. Be sure to hold baby securely and that you don’t get dizzy and stumble.
Shoulder Turning. (Right To Left).
Hold baby high on your chest and shoulder and spin around at a safe moderate speed from right to left three times. Be sure to hold baby securely and that you don’t get dizzy and stumble.